(estimated read time: 5 minutes)
What does “Zillionaire” by Flo Rida mean?
Well, I just listened to “Zillionaire,” and while I wouldn’t call myself a “Flo Rida Fan,” I do like several of his hits, particularly “I Don’t Like It, I Love It” and “My House.” He’s just really good at that big, bouncing, cool, self-assured club dance sound, and I can really get moving to music like that, particularly because I like dancing west coast swing to it.
However, despite how fun his melodies and rhythms are, Flo Rida’s lyrics tend to not carry the same amount of depth or interestingness. Of what I’ve heard, he sings about parties, spending money, and picking up girls. He’s not the only artist to focus on this, of course, and it’s kind of what we expect from that genre, but perhaps there’s something below the surface. Let’s find out.
Here, Flo Rida begins by singing, “I gotta ask where you been hiding,” and with that opening line, we already know what this song is going to be about. It’s going to follow one of the main archetypes of pop music: this song will essentially recount Flo Rida trying to flatter/seduce/pick up a woman he finds sexy.
He continues with the flattery: “You’re like a 20 karat diamond / The finer things in life were shining.” And he follows it up by asking her out: “How ’bout that late night wine and dining.” The verse has introduced the concept of this song, and we can expect to see a magnification and emphasizing of this same theme throughout the rest of the song, though we haven’t yet seen how the concept of a zillionaire fits into it.
Here in “Zillionaire,” Flo Rida sings, “You want that expensive clutch” (“clutch” meaning either confidence under pressure or coolness). Based on Flo Rida’s usage, this woman has high standards for his romancing of her.
And he wants to respond enthusiastically by giving her “that 5-star experience” and by showing “you that kinda love / That you can only get when you get enough.” Of course, (and especially with the way Flo Rida sings it) sexual innuendos abound here, and much of this bragging centers on Flo Rida’s “abilities as a man” as well as his abilities as wealthy.
Here, Flo Rida shows us how “Zillionaire” fits into the song and how he’s going to spend money on this girl: “I spend it all on you, baby, baby, just watch.” He list several things he plans to buy her: “BMW, a Bugatti, thick rock / Get you a fancy yacht any chance I got / . . . / shoes for you . . . / McQueen or Jimmy Choo, and I’ll get ’em real quick.” (McQueen and Jimmy Choo are brands of shoes.)
But here’s the catch, Flo Rida’s not quite rich yet. This will all happen “[w]hen I become a zillionaire.” But he’s very enthusiastic that once he is that rich he’ll be more than happy to spend that money on this girl.
Flo Rida continues by telling her what he’s going to do when they have sex. He’s “gonna work it to impress you / Get you that dress and then undress you.” He ties in buying clothes for her to taking those clothes off of her, seeming to assume that this is exactly what she wants. He continues, “Oh, we’ll do things only the best do,” which could refer to sex or to life in general but seems to be focused on sex. At the least, seeming to return to sex, he sings, “Do what you want because I’ll let you.”
The bridge of “Zillionaire” seems to focus on Flo Rida bragging on himself and how well he’ll treat her. He sings, “Abracadabra, I got the magic / I hope you can handle / Living this lavish.” He wants them to spend money together and sings, “Let’s blow a zillion, zillion, baby.” And he even encourages her appetite when he sings, “If you got a passion for fashion / Engines and platinum,” but makes it clear that it’s he who can satisfy those appetites for her: “I got the answers to questions.” He finishes by leading into the chorus’s “I spend it all on you. . . .” when he sings, “So, let me tell you what’s happening, baby.”
Apart from extra repetition, the main difference in the final chorus of “Zillionaire” is Flo Rida singing, “A little bit of you, yeah,” and “A little bit of me, yeah,” to show that they’ll be spending time together and likely be having sex.
Deeper thoughts on the meaning of “Zillionaire” by Flo Rida
On first look, there’s nothing here, right? Most song meaning enthusiasts probably didn’t even make it this far into the song explanation because they thought this was “just another club/dance song.” And that’s fine.
But if you want to go a step further, let’s talk. Here’s what I noticed about “Zillionaire”: the sexual innuendo. Notice how carefully Flo Rida walks the line between being downright graphic and comfortably PG. The only explicit-ish lyric is “undress you,” but there are other subtle references to sex throughout the song like “show you the kinda love / That you can only get when you get enough.”
Basically, we know that Flo Rida is having sex with this woman, and we hear him bragging about his sexual prowess. But why doesn’t he just come right out and say it? Why not keep sex out of it or go for it the whole way and just make the song about sex?
Well, it’s because Flo Rida occupies a very carefully mapped out place in the music industry: he seems to want his audience to include both people who want songs about sex and those who don’t. Some people will take “show you the kinda love” to be about buying stuff for this woman, and the other crowd will nod and wink at what the hinted at meaning is.
And this is a patter we see a lot of in pop music: weird and vague phrases that could be taken as allusions to sex or as allusions to something else. Personally, I think this is a coward’s way of creating art–to make your art palatable to a larger audience for the sake of sales–but it makes more sense when you consider that Flo Rida isn’t trying to be an artist, just a performer and entertainer (see my podcast for the difference).
Either way, “Zillionaire” at the very least does tell us something more about ourselves and our listening habits. We find out something about ourselves that maybe we didn’t know but that Flo Rida does: we hear what we want to.
And that leads to the big takeaway from this song: when you listen to music, hear what the artist is actually saying. Your meanings and what you get out of a song are still important, but the truth of what an artist is saying can teach you things you didn’t already know and may show you something under the surface of what’s happening that you wouldn’t have found on your own.
Thanks for reading! I’m a college English instructor, university writing center director, and online entrepreneur (college for under $15k, anyone?) who cares deeply about TRUTH and MEANING. I’m married to the gloriously beautiful Wife April and love to swing dance and juggle.